Clutch hitting and pitching kept Mentor atop the standings in the Greater Cleveland Conference as the Cardinals edged host Brunswick on Monday, 3-0.
Each of Mentor’s three runs was scored with at least one out in the inning and pitcher Leah Temple twice stranded Brunswick runners at third to secure the shutout.
“It’s always nice to see the girls step up and make plays,” said Mentor coach Jo Bondra. “Temple gave us a chance to win the game and we were able to scratch out some runs to get a big conference win today.”
Brunswick threatened in the bottom of the second when a single and a double put runners at second and third with no outs. Temple struck out the next three batters to keep the game scoreless.
The Cardinals finally broke through in the fourth when Temple hit a one-out double and Abby Haydu followed with an RBI single.
“Temple led the team today both in the circle and at the plate,” Bondra said. “She had some big hits and dominated in the circle with 12 strikeouts. She is a leader and she continues to step up big for us.”
The Blue Devils used a walk and a single to put two runners with no outs in the bottom of the fourth, but again, Temple retired the next three batters to preserve Mentor’s 1-0 lead.
“When I get a hit at the plate, I get super excited and it feeds off of me and my team,” Temple said. “I go onto the mound and throw with more energy than I did the previous inning. With pitching, you know the strike zone better than any other player on the team, so I know what pitches to swing at and what not to.”
Mentor added a run in the fifth when Bella Carcioppolo reached on a fielder’s choice and scored on Adrianna Sluga’s single.
Sluga finished the day 2-for-4 after her seventh-inning RBI double scored Izzy Coode, who drew a walk.
It was a big game for Sluga, who wasn’t pleased with her performance in a doubleheader at Aurora on Saturday.
“I did get a little bit down and in my own head during the second game on Saturday, but I knew I had to turn that around,” she said. “Going into today, I changed my mindset at the plate because I knew my team needed me. I had confidence in myself to get some hits, and that’s exactly what I did.”
Brunswick made one last run at the Cardinals in the bottom of the six.
The Blue Devils used a double and a single to put runners at second and third with one out. Temple fanned the next two batters to close out the inning, and she retired the Brunswick side in order in the seventh to preserve the shutout.
“When I get into those big jams when it is a close game, I knew I had to focus on one batter at a time,” Temple said. “I knew I had to dial in and throw what I knew I could.”
Temple allowed just six hits and struck out 12 in the complete-game shutout. She also went 3-for-4 at the plate with a double.
Sluga and Kiley Markowski both had two hits for the Cardinals.
“The whole team can definitely build off of the momentum that we had today,” Sluga said. “We had great energy and a good game overall, and I think we will continue that going into the Lake Catholic game on Friday. Personally, I am going to keep my confidence from today to keep helping my team in the future.”
Mentor improved to 9-4 overall and 6-0 in the GCC.